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Religious identity, public goods and centralization: Evidence from Russian and Israeli cities


  • Grigoriadis, Theocharis
  • Torgler, Benno


In this paper, we analyze the effects of religious identity - defined both as personal identification with a religious tradition and institutional ideas on the provision of public goods - on attitudes toward central government. We explore whether citizens belonging to collectivist rather than individualist religious denominations are more likely to evaluate their central government positively. Moreover, we explore whether adherence to collectivist norms of economic and political organization leads to a positive evaluation of central government. Surveys were conducted in Russia and Israel as these countries provide a mosaic of three major world religions - Judaism, Eastern Orthodoxy and Sunni Islam. The information gathered also allows us to study whether attitudes towards religious institutions such as the Russian Orthodox Church, the Chief Rabbinate in Jerusalem, the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf, and the Greek-Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem in Israel are able to predict positive attitudes toward centralized forms of governance. We find strong support for the proposition that collectivist norms and an institutional religious identity enhance positive attitudes towards central government.

Suggested Citation

  • Grigoriadis, Theocharis & Torgler, Benno, 2013. "Religious identity, public goods and centralization: Evidence from Russian and Israeli cities," Discussion Papers 2013/13, Free University Berlin, School of Business & Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:fubsbe:201313

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Ran Abramitzky, 2008. "The Limits of Equality: Insights from the Israeli Kibbutz," Discussion Papers 07-048, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
    2. Samuel Bowles & Herbert Gintis, 2002. "Social Capital and Community Governance," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(483), pages 419-436, November.
    3. Brender, Adi, 2003. "The effect of fiscal performance on local government election results in Israel: 1989-1998," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(9-10), pages 2187-2205, September.
    4. Olivier Blanchard & Andrei Shleifer, 2001. "Federalism With and Without Political Centralization: China Versus Russia," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 48(4), pages 1-8.
    5. Ran Abramitzky, 2008. "The Limits of Equality: Insights from the Israeli Kibbutz," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 123(3), pages 1111-1159.
    6. Gilles, Robert P. & Scotchmer, Suzanne, 1997. "Decentralization in Replicated Club Economies with Multiple Private Goods," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 72(2), pages 363-387, February.
    7. Banerjee, Abhijit & Somanathan, Rohini, 2007. "The political economy of public goods: Some evidence from India," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 82(2), pages 287-314, March.
    8. Greif, Avner, 1994. "Cultural Beliefs and the Organization of Society: A Historical and Theoretical Reflection on Collectivist and Individualist Societies," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(5), pages 912-950, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. Hillman, Arye L. & Metsuyanim, Kfir & Potrafke, Niklas, 2015. "Democracy with group identity," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 40(PB), pages 274-287.
    2. Soldatos, Gerasimos T., 2014. "On the Religion-Public Policy Correlation," MPRA Paper 60859, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item


    Religious identity; public goods; collectivism; individualism; local government; centralization; Russia; Israel;

    JEL classification:

    • P16 - Economic Systems - - Capitalist Systems - - - Political Economy of Capitalism
    • P17 - Economic Systems - - Capitalist Systems - - - Performance and Prospects
    • P21 - Economic Systems - - Socialist Systems and Transition Economies - - - Planning, Coordination, and Reform
    • P35 - Economic Systems - - Socialist Institutions and Their Transitions - - - Public Finance
    • P51 - Economic Systems - - Comparative Economic Systems - - - Comparative Analysis of Economic Systems
    • P52 - Economic Systems - - Comparative Economic Systems - - - Comparative Studies of Particular Economies
    • Z12 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Religion

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